Brothers unable to put a value on their assets

 

THE VALUE of the assets owned by the Christian Brothers in Ireland is not available from public documents, although filings to the Companies’ Registration Office do show substantial financial transactions involving the order.

A spokesman for the order could not put a value on its assets.

An unlimited company called Richmond Newstreet appears to hold substantial investments and is used for the support of the order’s international network.

Also an English company that is also registered here, Edmund Rice Bicentennial Trust Ltd, gets substantial income from the order’s international network

During the 1990s, the order gave consideration to transferring shares in the trust company that owned a Canadian school to Richmond Newstreet.

The Christian Brothers corporate vehicle in Canada went into liquidation in the 1990s so it could pay compensation to victims of abuse at the order’s hands.

Concerns arose at that time that the order might have moved assets offshore using the Dublin company.

However, Br Edmund Garvey of the order said no assets were moved offshore and that the shares in the trust company were never moved to Richmond Newstreet.

The filings for the company show that in August 1997, a number of substantial charges or debts were registered against the company.

They were: $545,000, which came from the Western Australian branch of the order; $1 million associated with another Australian element of the order; $727,000, from the Irish St Mary’s province of the order; an identical amount from the trustees of the order’s congregation and $1.4 million from the St Helen’s province in Ireland.

The charges were all satisfied in January of 2004, indicating the funds were repaid.

As an unlimited company, Richmond Newstreet does not have to publish its accounts.

However, for reasons that are unclear, its accounts for the year to December 2003 are available. Those accounts state the company has charitable tax exemption and is designed to support international charitable work.

It is also designed to support the living and travel costs of the congregation.

The accounts show that in that year, the company had income of €811,026, made donations of €1.09 million and had an accumulated deficit at the end of the year of €2.49 million. The company’s investment fund had dropped in value to €13.8 million from €16 million.

The company’s funds were managed during the year by KBC Asset Management and Lloyds Bank, but at the end of the year the former were replaced by Allied Irish Investment Managers.

The company had euro and dollar denominated investments totalling €12.77 million and €1 million on deposit.

No accounts since that date are available. The directors of the company as per its latest annual return were mostly resident in the Christian Brothers’ address in Rome though they also included Michael Reynolds with an address at the Province Centre in Marino, Dublin.

The company is based at Terminus Mills on Clonskeagh Road, Dublin, the address of LP Financial Trustees Ltd, which acts as an adviser to the brothers.

An English subsidiary of LP provides services to Edmund Rice Bicentennial Trust Ltd. Its accounts for the year to end December 2006, the latest on file in the Companies Registration Office, show it had reserves of £18.34 million (€21.13 million) at that date.

The company was set up in 2001 and funded by the order. The company’s funds are placed in long-term investments to provide income for charitable purposes and to provide “for the education and training of children and other persons according to the spirit and ideals of Blessed Edmund Rice”.

As of the end of 2006, £17.14 million was in investments and €1.22 million was on deposit. £172,329 had been donated to charitable groups, mostly in Africa. Donations received during the year were £4 million, down from £7.6 million the previous year. The donations in 2006 came from Christian Brothers’ provinces in Australia, New Zealand and Italy.

The directors of the company are Christian Brothers based in Dublin, Cheshire and Rome.

A company called Christian Brothers Ltd was set up in 2007 and has as its purpose the holding of all the assets of the order’s new European Province in Ireland.

However, it had yet to commence activities during the period of its most recently filed accounts.